Denny/Sealth: A Denny teacher’s view

In our ongoing quest to publish as much information and as many perspectives as possible on the Denny/Sealth project, as a final decision gets closer, we had wondered here why supporters didn’t seem to be speaking out publicly. Tonight, in comments on this post below, a Denny teacher supporting the co-located campus has spoken out – the school’s music director – and especially considering not everyone reads the comment sections, we wanted to highlight it here:

Over the past year that I have had the opportunity to work on the BEX committee, I have had numerous talks with Mr. Clark, the Denny principal regarding this project and the ongoing debate surrounding it. I know for a fact that Mr. Clark supports option 2, the “adjoined” campus, because he sincerely believes option 2 is what is best for kids. (I posted his letter on this subject in my previous comment and I have the attachment if anyone would like it forwarded to them).

Having listened to everything for the past year and having consistently participated on the BEX committee, I tend to agree that an adjoined campus is in the best interest of our students. I say adjoined and not combined because I believe that “adjoined” is a more accurate description of what has actually been proposed and I have spoken to a lot of kids (and some adults) who have misconceived notions about what was actually proposed. The only “combined” part of the campus, where the students would be regularly encountering one another, is our music department, which is largely combined already with students from Denny going to Sealth for orchestra and choir, and Sealth students coming up to Denny for steel drums.

In a recent survey of the Denny staff (January 30, 2008) 63% of the Denny staff supported or somewhat supported what is being referred to as Option 2, the adjoined campus. 22% were supportive or somewhat supportive of separate campuses, with the remaining 15% checking a box marked neutral. The Denny homeroom representatives, in their most recent meeting saw the district’s budget comparison of Options 2 and 3, including the list of upgrades to be performed to Sealth under the two plans, and saw the drawings that have been done so far of the adjoined campus. They listened to the input of their student represenative to the BEX committee, and discussed the pros and cons of having the middle school next door to the high school. After much back and forth, the Denny homeroom representatives issued a unanimous statement in favor of the adjoined campus. They are working with the administration on plans for grade level assemblies to occur next week, to present the information to the Denny students as a whole and to do a survey to invite their input. I think this is particularly relevant because, although the vast majority of the high school students will never have to attend school in the adjoined campus, the middle school students are the ones who will ultimately have to live with whatever is decided. Although I am personally of the opinion that adults, not students, should be making decisions about what is best for kids, if we are going to consider student opinion, the middle school students support for the adjoined campus should be given special consideration and weight.

As for me personally, I support the adjoined campus because I believe it affords us with an opportunity to build a 6-12th grade “nest” around these students, to create the framework for collaboration and sequential instruction, to foster mentoring and tutoring programs between the two schools, to support the development of specialized programs for both middle and high school students, to support the maintenance of students’ relationships with positive adult figures from their middle school experience, and to work together as a community to address the real challenges faced by many of our students. While there are undoubtedly going to be challenges that come along with any change, it is clear that we need to do something to help the many kids who are falling through the gaps, for example students dropping out of school. To the extent that we can create continuity and a sense of community for these kids, it is a good thing.

One of the primary concerns I have heard expressed with this project has been a reported danger of mixing the student populations. Personally, I think the risks are being overblown. In all the pleas for evidence to support the academic benefits, has anyone presented any real evidence that bringing a middle school and a high school in close proximity will bring about the doomsday I hear so many predicting? I student taught at Chinook M.S. and Tyee H.S. in the Highline district (two schools separated by a parking lot), and I was never aware of any issues there. Is there any data to suggest that this has worked out disastrously in the many other places where this has been tried? Or, are we just assuming the worst of our students?

Personally, I would argue that adjoining these two campuses has the opportunity to actually improve the security situation as it will enable the teachers and administrators to make concrete plans for how to move students around safely, and will put directly in our face the mixing, that is already occurring, and that our two block distance has previously allowed us to ignore. Furthermore, my understanding is that as with any new project being completed now, we will have security cameras and access points with ID card readers.

Students live up or down to the expectations of the adults in their lives. If we believe in them, educate them, and demand that they live up to high behavioral standards, they will. If we are convinced they can’t, they won’t. Up until last year, Denny and Sealth students rode the same school busses to school every day with next to no incidents (and this was under the supervision of a bus driver who was watching the road). Today, the students still manage to commingle safely on the streets coming to and from school and in the after school hours at the community center and the Westwood Shopping Center.

The students at this adjoined campus will not be mixed. They will have separate schools and separate facilities, including a completely divided lunchroom facility. It is not a “combined” school, but two schools adjoined.

Having been on the design committee, I had the opportunity to travel with the group that went to New York and Boston. My observation from the visits at the schools in New York and Boston was that the kids we saw in those schools were excelling, despite the fact that those buildings were not designed with the 6-12 environment in mind. In those schools, middle and high school students shared a single building, sometimes with just a sign and a door separating high school classes from middle school ones. In at least two of the three schools we visited, over 90% of the graduating classes were accepted into colleges and universities, and none of the students I spoke to expressed any issues about having middle schoolers and high schoolers near each other. While I have heard my colleagues make the case that those are different kids and a different situation, I am convinced that our kids are every bit as good and as capable as the kids in New York, Boston and anywhere else. If kids in other schools can excel in the difficult environment of multiple ages in a single building, I know our kids can excel in a well-planned environment where they will not be sharing one building, but a large campus with separate facilities for middle and high school programs.

Thanks for taking the time to hear me out. I am convinced that as a community we can not only make this work, but we can ultimately realize all the potential benefits of better curriculum alignment, increased collaboration, improved programming, and greater continuity from middle school to high school. For these reasons, I strongly support Option 2.

Marcus J. Pimpleton
Music Director, Denny Middle School
Director, Seattle Schools All-City Band
Denny/Sealth Alumnus

Again, this originally appeared in the comment thread below this post, where the same author earlier posted a previously circulated letter from Denny’s principal Jeff Clark (a letter from Sealth principal John Boyd was circulated last week). WSB archives of Denny/Sealth coverage are here, including reminders about tomorrow night’s meeting @ CSHS.

57 Replies to "Denny/Sealth: A Denny teacher's view"

  • Indaknow February 4, 2008 (7:24 am)

    “In at least two of the three schools we visited, over 90% of the graduating classes were accepted into colleges and universities, and none of the students I spoke to expressed any issues about having middle schoolers and high schoolers near each other.”
    Those are great stats, but they are for students who went through a selection process. They mean the same to me as stats I was given touring local private High Schools that require entrance exams. I agree with Marcus on so many of his points, but the reality is that our population at Denny/Sealth is not selected, and some of their families (for whatever reason) do not have high expectations for their students and this has an effect on the school. My son was in an honor’s LA class at Sealth this fall that was disrupted DAILY by the outbursts of several students. For the first six or so weeks of school they went through several substitute teachers (who didn’t want to stay) before a permanent instructor was found. It was right to wait for the “perfect” teacher, but if we can’t even screen out disruptive students in an honors class I don’t have much confidence in this system.

  • Michael February 4, 2008 (11:09 am)

    The reason supporters aren’t nearly as loud as the critics: they never are.
    Glad I could help. :)

  • westello February 4, 2008 (1:46 pm)

    This is a thoughtful letter. But I find some of it confusing and unfair.

    Why should the middle schoolers be afford more in terms of their opinions than high schoolers? In the end, I doubt many adults will listen but at least high school kids have some degree of experience with both. To say, well, the high school kids will be gone so their opinions shouldn’t count is unfair. Also, it seems like it would be parents, not teens, speaking up about the issues of problems between middle and high school students and yet it is the high school students warning of the dangers.

    When Director de Bell gave an account of the visits to other high schools he said the schools HAD been designed (programming) as 6-12 schools and that staff had known this previous to applying for the jobs. This is a very different situation from the one at Denny/Sealth.

    Also, at some point there will have to be clarification. What is the purpose to co-joining the buildings? Mr. Pimpleton says it is to create a nest but not one school. If the teachers are working together on curriculum and organization, isn’t it one school? The fact that no one can put their finger on what this situation is to be, that Carla Santorno has no academic plan for this situation, again, it should tell you something.

    Lastly, from Mr. Pimpleton’s letter:
    “Furthermore, my understanding is that as with any new project being completed now, we will have security cameras and access points with ID card readers.”

    Your understanding would be completely wrong, Mr. Pimpleton. Despite being post-Columbine and post V-Tech, the district is NOT building in enough security into the new high schools. I am co-president of the PTSA at Roosevelt and we are a new building. We have NO video cameras and were not even given a gate to lock off our gym from the rest of the school during events. Cleveland, also newly renovated, also doesn’t have enough security (ask Michael Tolley, the new high school director for the district, I have). Access points with ID cards? Do you have any idea of the cost of such a system? If the district is creating a community of 2100 students plus staff and teachers, there should be a LOT of security but don’t count on it. See it in the blueprints, get it in writing from Facilities or it will NOT be built in. Also, to put that much security it, something else in the design will have to give so keep that in mind.

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 4, 2008 (5:06 pm)


    I just spoke with Don Gilmore, who oversees these projects. Here are the facts I was able to get from him. There are 48 cameras in use at Cleveland right now. There are 48 cameras scheduled to be installed at the new Garfield and temporary cameras are installed at Lincoln. There are also cameras in use at West Seattle although he didn’t have a count of how many. Current plans call for 48 cameras for the Sealth portion of this project and another 16-32 cameras for the Denny portion. All of the districts new projects have cameras planned. The only reason Roosevelt does not have the cameras (according to him) is because they did not want them. I would suggest you ask your principal more about that. But yes, this project will have cameras.

    Card readers are also standard practice of the districts new projects (he said for the past 8 years or so). They are present at all of the new schools, although not on every door. The principals make the decisions about which doors get the readers and which do not.

    As far as working together on currciculum is concerned, I think it is important to recognize that curriculum alignment is not intended to make two schools into one. Curriculum alignment is intended to make sure that students moving from one level to the next are prepared to be successful as they move up. Imagine how frustrating it would be for a freshman to walk into a high school math class only to find out that everything they learned in 8th grade was tossed out the window and they were now going to use drastically different stragegies to solve the same types of math questions. Aligning the curriculum in my opinion is one of the most important things we can do to help close the achievement gap and to improve the chances of student success beginning with the first day of high school.

    Finally, I apologize if I seemed like I was being unfair to the high school students. I was not saying that the opinion of high schoolers should not be considered. I just was making the argument that more insight can be gained from talking to the students who would actually be put in the situation than from talking to students who will not be. Having had the unique position of teaching both middle and high school students for the past six years, I have come to realize that high school students (and some middle school students) can be brilliant from time to time and demonstrate wisdom beyond their years. I would caution against depending heavily on a student drafted survey however, as students have a hard time covering their bias when they ask questions. The majority of the high school students I have spoken to oppose the project for a very different reason than the student drafted survey results suggest. In fact, most of them, at the time the survey was administered, were under the impression that if they were sucessful in nixing the adjoined campus plan, they would not have to move to Boren. Opposition to the move to Boren is the real reason most of the high school students at Sealth are against the project. They were never informed that regardless of which option is selected they are still supposed to be moving to Boren. The ones I have spoken to time and time again have admitted that they talk about “potential violence” because it is suggested by the survey and they know it is their best of hope of seeing the project aborted. Most of them recognize that their peers are good kids and unlikely to harm the middle school students. Most high school students want nothing to do with middle school students, and many have younger siblings in middle school.

  • westello February 4, 2008 (10:43 pm)

    That is a complete lie that Roosevelt didn’t want cameras. He didn’t even know when I asked him if Roosevelt had been wired. I note you say “scheduled to be installed at Garfield”. We’ll see.

  • Duron Jones February 5, 2008 (12:22 am)

    I’ve followed this experiment for the majority of the time that it has been in the works and as a sophomore at Chief Sealth who has knowledge on what is best for my future I find it humoring that you say “I have had numerous talks with Mr. Clark, the Denny principal regarding this project and the ongoing debate surrounding it. I know for a fact that Mr. Clark supports option 2, the “adjoined” campus, because he sincerely believes option 2 is what is best for kids.” as well as the statement of “I tend to agree that an adjoined campus is in the best interest of our students.” I could possibly be wrong on this fact and correct me if I am but to my knowledge neither Principal Clark nor you have sat down and discussed this matter with enough students on enough occasions to know what their intake on this is and how they believe it affects the students’ future and I’m pretty sure after 15 to 16 years of our parents teaching us what’s in the best interest for us we can decipher that for ourselves. Especially if you wish to call a high schooler mature and not a risk to a middle schooler. You can’t have it both ways, honestly.

    Also touching on the idea of it being an adjoined campus instead of a combined campus, I have to admit you’re right in that fact because there’s nothing truly being shared but then that sparks the question in my head which I’m sure it does in other’s heads of the fact that if it’s not really combined what’s the point of moving Denny? It surely can’t be for the interaction. It surely can’t be for the distance the music students have to travel because from the layouts I’ve seen it’s a longer walk if you place Denny on Sealth’s campus, then leave it where it currently is at.

    This next statement or question may need to be directed to Principal Clark himself however I’m sure you can get an answer out of him on this. What I would like to know in regarding your teacher survey, why a week ago when he promised a Denny alumni and current Sealth student that he would send out a teacher inquiry and have them send the results back to her, he never did and never returned contact with her. I’m glad that Denny is getting the information to say where they stand, finally, but I still want to know why are students, who are claimed to be the future of society, being pushed aside when they try to work with Denny adults on this matter.

    And as far as current high school students’ opinions go, you may have forgot but the class of 2011 are the ones who will be coming back to this new experimental building, if this happens that is. As well as the fact of the current high school students’ children are more then likely future Chief Sealth and Denny enrollees.

    Then for the matter of the students dropping through the gaps and dropping out of school, currently Chief Sealth High School has a program going on called Ignite Mentoring, which I am apart of, where we mentor 5-6 mentees and make sure they are doing their work and have someone watching out for them and from what our records show the failing students at the end of 1st semester lessened from the first several months of school once the program started and not only do we have that but we have a summer bridge program where students come in for a summer camp program to be brought up to par. So I believe combining the campuses to “lower the drop out rate” really isn’t a concrete and proven reason.

    I know with the next comment I write regarding safety I will probably get a lecture from upper authorities, as I do on everything else that doesn’t fit in their perfect box, about not airing dirty laundry. But a couple of weeks ago I got out of school and I was walking to my bus stop, right in the parking lot of Chief Sealth High School was a gang fight between a Mexican gang and a Black gang and the cops were nowhere to stop it but the funny part to this is that the fight started because the little brother of one of the gang members, who goes to Denny, was jumped and it was retaliation. So do you really think it would be more safe to place them closer so they can retaliate quicker and even quicker then the police for that matter.

    I only have one more question, which is how can you truly compare a East side school to a West side school when on various levels they have nothing in common besides being a school.

  • curious February 5, 2008 (12:22 am)

    Just out of curiosity, how was the staff poll at Denny conducted? Was it a secret ballot or was it just a showing of hands?

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 5, 2008 (7:11 am)

    Staff was polled by a secret ballot following a presentation on the options.

    The survey had the following options on it:

    ____ I support option 2
    ____ I somewhat support option 2
    ____ neutral
    ____ I support option 3
    ____ I somewhat support option 3


  • Delfino February 5, 2008 (7:13 am)


    I genuinely respect your passion, reasoned arguments and position on this issue. You are the kind of educator that makes a difference with our kids. While you are the most convincing person I have met, I believe at least a few of your key arguments are flawed because they are inaccurate or don’t really reflect the everyday reality of all our students in either of our schools. As you made so many points, I am going to address your comments by paragraph. ( GenHillOne and Suzanne you can skip to the next comment because this not going to be short.)
    Paragraph 2
    As to the semantics of adjoined, combined, merged, co-located or connected; the fact is this will be one campus. The statement that only part where students will regularly encounter each other the campus that will be the music department. The path to the music department is across the southern portion of the campus in what is now the most traveled part of Chief Sealth. The Family and Consumer Science Lab is in the very central part of Sealth and shared. Mr Clark has on several occasions talked about shared world language programs. Will those students ever leave have to go to the bathroom during class time? Sealth students will be encountering these students unless we say they can’t leave the classroom. What about tardies? Unfortunately both of our schools have a significant attendance problem. You confirm this in your own post when you state that your Native students were not in class when you went to find them. Many many students are not in class when they should be in both schools. Chief Sealth has 2-300 students missing from one or more classes in any one day. These students skip classes and are both in the building and community. Closer proximity will ensure that our most risky students encounter each other more often.

    The lunchroom is only separated by rolling 7 ft partitions. Hardly a real barrier

    The Teen Health Center is not located in either campus but across the Galleria. Our most at risk students will be will be crossing each other on the “secure bridge” as the music students are coming to music or family and consumer science or mentoring or shared world language classes Sealth students will be in the commons at many times throughout the day.
    Paragraph 3
    I’m glad that the Denny staff has finally had an opportunity to weigh in on the project. I do have a couple of questions and a comment.
    -Did all the staff vote, or was it like the student poll where only a select group voting?
    -What is the difference between “support” and “somewhat support”? Was the question asked that way or was it a number scale?
    -How many were support and how many were somewhat support?
    – Did either the students or staff get any pictures of Option3 , other than the one picture in the District presentation ?

    Ok let me see if I understand the staff poll. Denny is the only school in the District that doesn’t have to move to get a complete rebuild, had the opportunity for anyone to participate in the site design planning, gets all the benefits of the project and only has 63% supporting or “somewhat supporting” Could it be that the somewhat supporting staff may have been supportive or even somewhat supportive of Option3 if they would have had an idea of what they may be getting in Option3? Or were they told that if we don’t move fast many of the things they see now in Option2 may not be possible?
    Paragraph 4
    Thank you for involving the students. I have to agree with Westello’s points on student involvement and that parents of students who will be affected should be polled. In this case, that means parents of current elementary students.
    Paragraph 5
    Your comment on building the “nest” truly reflects the kind of educator you are and why I have such great respect for you. Although we disagree on this BEX issue, I see you as a kindred spirit. As educators we have to care about our students, we have to love them or we need to get out. But some of us put a lot more into it, and you are one of those people. That is one of the reasons your students and program are so successful. However, it does not reflect the reality of Chief Sealth and if you look at the data Denny either. A school is so much more than a music program, and the students in music have a common bond that is not necessarily seen in core academic subjects such as math, science, LA ans SS. The time for collaboration is the problem not the distance across the street. Chief Sealth does not have aligned curriculum in our own school. Connecting Denny to Chief Sealth will not magically allow us to have more time to work together to first align our own grade level curriculum, then align it with either the MS or HS. In fact if you think about it, it most likely will have just the opposite effect. As we play with the start times of classes and lunches to avoid mixing, we will create a situation where it is highly unlikely that our two schedules will mesh, so even teachers with the same period prep will be unable to meet. This is the case with our 9th grade house. A great idea, but not currently realizing it’s full potential because of overcrowding and the time to plan and collaborate is not there like we planned for. At least with Denny where it is now, we don’t have to stagger the classes and, with leadership and resources, we could possibly collaborate more to align our curriculum, as we had already begun until this issue tore us apart.. Kids dropping out of school and falling through the cracks is extremely complicated, and again simply adjoining our school won’t correct that.

    Paragraph 6
    The examples of Chinook MS and Tyee HS are enlightening. First they are only grades 7 and 8. 6th graders are still in the elementary schools. A former student of mine works at Chinook in a similar role to mine, and I know the Principal of one of the 3 “small high schools” at Tyee. Both have told me that they have significant gang issues. Highline schools have armed District area security staff, and most school based security carry hand cuffs and mace. They also have a full time King County Sheriff assigned to each of their MS HS complexes. A quick look at the annual reports on the State OSPI web site shows that they have lower WASL test scores that Denny or Sealth and similar or worse dropout rates. Our staff has not been able to find urban models of 6-12 or 7-12 combined/merged or adjoined schools to find any data, pro or con that are not alternative, magnet or exclusive. I challenge you to find a post the models of where this is proven to work. Maybe we could be the first, but highly unlikely.

    Paragraph 7
    As for making security more efficient, I would argue that we need concrete plans leadership and coordination and targeted student support services. None of which needs a combined campus or is guaranteed in the current plan.
    Paragraph 8
    The idea that students live up to expectations is commonly accepted, but is largely rhetoric. Are we then to believe that the real and significant problems of academic achievement and attendance facing our two schools is due to low staff expectations and behavioral standards? While we may have some problems, we have very skilled committed and caring educators. Our problems are due to lack of planning, coordination, time to collaborate and support and resources to implement the ideas and plans we come up with before new initiatives are forced on us from District administration.
    Paragraph 9
    Of course our students are as good as those in New York and Boston, but we did not see similar situations. If we go visit the Garfiield AP program, I bet we would see similar success. Remember, Mr Z ( who has also posted on this Blog against the Options 1 and 2) I also went on that same trip with you, and while you were asking questions of kid relationships and music programs, we asked academic questions at every stop. In New York, students had to score high on their version of the WASL and were invited to attend. They were sent home if they wore the wrong clothes and the program was equivalent to our APP or spectrum. Boston had 3 High schools together, one was a Vocational Technical High school not 6-12 and the 6-12 “model “ was somewhat exclusive and not proven. They were adding grades each year, and weren’t even complete, hardly a model that proves success. If we could select only the strong students with the proven desire, drive and support systems we could post similar results. We are community schools serving every student that walks through our doors, and I believe that’s how it should be.

    Marcus my brother we are alike in so many ways .We both come from the neighborhood, went to both these schools and are deeply committed to serving students and community. I have over 22 years experience here at Sealth and spent many of my first years as staff half the day at Sealth and half the day at Denny. I know the music program has the most to gain in this plan, and it pains me to have to be against it because you and your students truly deserve the best. But so do all our students. The fact is Sealth loses in this plan, so in the long run, so do Denny students. We can make the best of any situation that comes to us, indeed that’s what we do all the time, real progress takes hard work, time resources and advanced planning. None of these are include in this BEX plan. This plan is about saving the District time and money. We can spin it anyway we want, but in the end there is no denying this. I only wish we were given the time to have real dialogue between staff and community, then discussion and debate and finally a decision and the necessary planning resources to implement the plans that represent our collective best thinking.

    Thank you so much for engaging in the discussion.

  • Indaknow February 5, 2008 (9:45 am)

    And what were the results of the secret ballot at Denny?

  • Steve Taylor February 5, 2008 (3:11 pm)

    Indaknow, your “handle” humorously seems inaccurate for you be asking questions :-) I do sincerely appreciate your posts! I was sent the “results” of the “secret ballot” by someone who works at Denny, however was also requested not to publicize such until the information became more “general knowledge”. I inquired to how the information would exactly become “general knowledge” without someone posting it? As of yet I have not received a reply back. Consequently I will apologize in advance for the “information tease”, however can say the information is informative, right, wrong, biased, unbiased, or otherwise. Simply, it is information to be considered in the juggernaut of the BEX. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 5, 2008 (3:16 pm)

    The complete breakdown of the Denny staff survey was:

    I support Option 2 – 51%
    I somewhat support option 2 – 12%
    I am neutral – 15%
    I support Option 3 – 20%
    I somewhat support Option 3 – 2%

    The survey was administered at the last all staff meeting. It was a blind paper ballot, following a presentation on all three options, somewhat similar to the one we saw at last night’s meeting. The students will get a similar survey this Friday following grade level presentations on all three options and the costs associated.

    I would like to thank everyone for an interesting dialogue this past few days. I am going to draw back awhile from the blogging world. I am finding myself getting more and more discouraged the more I read on here, and spending too much time wanting to respond to everything I see. I need my enthusiasm in order to be effective in the classroom so I am going to have to go cold turkey on the blogging for a little while. If anyone should have a pressing question you need asked of us at Denny – I am sure there are others on here, or you can just call or email me or the principal at the school.

  • Steve Taylor February 5, 2008 (3:29 pm)

    Marcus Pimpleton, thank you for the informational posting. The “secret ballot” information is now “general knowledge”, which is effectively the information I was sent, less some information. Read below:

    “We took a secret ballot at Denny last week. I don’t think anybody felt any pressure to vote anything, or vote at all. Here are the results:
    Reminder: Option 2 – Denny and Sealth share a campus on Sealth’s current site, partially sharing some facilities

    Option 3 – Denny is rebuilt on its current site; Sealth gets only absolutely required safety-type updates

    51% support Option 2 (21 counted)
    12% somewhat support Option 2 (5 counted)
    15% neutral (6 counted)
    2% somewhat support Option 3 (1 counted)
    20% support Option 3 (8 counted)”

    The above information demonstrates that only about half of Denny Middle School Staff and or Teachers as a whole took part in the secret ballot survey. Hardly a whole school voice. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Indaknow February 5, 2008 (4:30 pm)

    I do understand your desire to take a mini-vacation from the blog. It is tiring. I am doing this on my breaks and days off from my full-time job and other obligations. Your job is to inspire students in the class, my job as a parent and taxpayer is to ask tough questions. I think we want the same thing, just don’t agree on the way to get it. No matter how this turns out, I will think of you as an amazing band director.

  • WSB February 5, 2008 (6:38 pm)

    Hi guys – Just a reminder that you can read this site without participating in the discussion. Most posts are on the home page in their entirety. This is a NEWS site even more than a “blog” – if you don’t click on “comments” you can read news items (most of which have nothing to do with this topic) without being part of the discussion (which is a component of more mainstream news sites such as the P-I, as well). Just don’t want people to leave and miss important West Seattle news, which we post pretty much around the clock. Thanks.

  • Marlene Allbright February 5, 2008 (7:44 pm)

    To Marcus:
    Why can’t the curriculum be aligned if the schools are on separate campuses?

  • Steve Taylor February 5, 2008 (9:03 pm)

    Marlene Albright, you are another one of the jewel teachers at Chief Sealth High School. I do not know this from my own children, however have been told of such by many. I commend you. You likely know the true answer to your above question to Marcus Pimpleton, however I will offer an example of such. As my son has suffered through it. For example, when learning Math at Denny in the eighth grade the students learn “X” math. One might think the next math would by “Y” math in the ninth grade at Chief Sealth? However such is not the case. The math for ninth graders is “Z” math. Consequently there is no bridge in the mathematics from eighth grade to ninth grade. This has been a problem in the District for many years. You might want to ask one of the “truly” brilliant mathematics teachers (published no less) of the District, Robert Femiano, formerly of Arbor Heights Elementary school, however was effectively “run out” by the relatively new principal (who is not all bad) Dr. Carol Korum. A whole other sad District story… Robert Femiano is now at the very fortunate to have him Sanislo Elementary School, and has been for a few years now. Robert Femiano’s children have attended Chief Sealth, and Robert Femiano is quite familiar with the mathematical challenges beseeching Denny and Chief Sealth. Such is just one scenario’s for you. I urge everyone to consult as many teachers, especially “senior” / experienced teachers. When you to the Dr., are you seeking advice from an Intern, or a seasoned specialist? Consider your sources, and even seasoned Dr.s make mistakes… Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 8, 2008 (3:38 pm)

    Just stopping by to post the results of the Denny student survey.

    Denny student government presented an assembly of the options for replacement of Denny Middle School, which included a powerpoint presentation and a question and answer session with the principal. The survey had the same five options as the Denny staff survey.

    The results were as follows:

    I Support Option 2 (Co Location): 68%
    I Somewhat Support Option 2 (Co Location) 8%
    I am Neutral: 15%
    I Somewhat Support Option 3 (Separate): 1%
    I Support Option 3 (Separate): 7%

  • GenHillOne February 9, 2008 (9:25 am)

    Thanks Mr. Pimpleton. Not sure how this info can get bumped up in the Denny/Sealth threads, but it addresses something we’ve talked about in our house re: safety/bullying at a co-located schools. Current Denny students, so those who will be in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades when the co-location would occur, are not expressing the fear of violence. Yes, one could argue that they’re naive, but the flip side is that we have a few years to build on their confidence and positive attitude if Option 1 or 2 goes forward. A pretty empowering culture could be built.

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 9, 2008 (1:19 pm)

    I wholeheartedly agree. Hopefully regardless of which option is adopted by the board, the staffs at both schools and the community will come together to improve the climate and the culture at both of these schools.

    The Sealth students have made it abundantly clear that they do not view their school as a safe place. I have parents of seventh and sixth graders who have been watching this discussion who are now reconsidering what was previously in their minds been a given decision to send their kids to Sealth. Not because of the co-location plan, but because of the things they have heard Sealth students and teachers say about how dangerous they perceive Sealth to be. I have tried to reassure them that Sealth is a safe place and a good school, but as I am hearing from more and more Sealth students I am beginning to second guess myself. If Sealth is indeed as dangerous as the high schoolers have been making it out to be, I can no longer in good conscience continue recommending that my students go there.

    I know for a fact that one of the reasons both Denny and Sealth have been suffering in terms of the numbers has been that they have a reputation as being West Seattle’s “ghetto” schools. While there are some students with some unique challenges at both of these schools, it saddens me that the students themselves sometimes adopt the negative thinking that outsiders have of them. The vast majority of my Denny students are great kids who follow the rules, attend their classes, and do what they are supposed to do. Even the ones who make poor choices can be brought under control by those adults who have taken the time to establish a relationship with them.

    I can recall one occasion in which I heard a student of mine swearing at his teacher and throwing things in a classroom when I was walking past the room outside. I walked into the classroom and without me even saying a word the student brought himself under control. I took him to my classroom, spoke with him, and within a couple of hours he had returned to that teacher and apologized for his behavior.

    I cannot speak for Sealth, but I have always assumed that the same thing is true about their students as is true of ours. If you make the relationship, you can control the students. One of my reasons for supporting the co-location has been that it brings people like me closer to our ninth grade former students who may be slow to develop relationships with their new schools teachers and administrators.

    But yeah it does scare me to hear the kids talking the way they do about themselves. And it scares me even more that the teachers seem to at least tacetly agree with them by not attempting to correct or challenge them when they hear them speaking that way of themselves and their peers. Whatever option is selected, our community and our staffs need to come together to improve the climate and the culture at Sealth, so that no one attending has the perception that they are at a “ghetto” school or that school is not a safe place.

  • Delfino February 9, 2008 (2:46 pm)

    While it is absolutely true that we have much safer schools than some would have us believe, and that adult relationships are key to to improving safety and closing the Academic Achievement Gaps, ignoring real problems in the name of marketing our schools does not help the situation. At some point, truth is paramount. According to Denny’s last Annual report, the suspension rate at Denny was:

    29.6% 04-05
    29.6% 05-06
    22.3% 06-07

    Most of the gang involved kids that I have dealt with in the last few years came from Denny, had been kicked out numerous times and were so far behind academically that they never made it the first year at Sealth.

    It takes a tremendous amount of work to try and guide kids away from problems. I am one that has worked to do this my whole career. This plan to combine the schools will not make that easier or more effective.

    We are being told that HS and MS student movement will be closely monitored and restricted, yet your statements seem to indicate that former Denny students will be allowed to go visit their former teachers anytime they want. It’s one way or the other.

    People are kidding themselves if they think that many families will not choose Denny/Sealth if this thing goes through. Holy Family will probably be the biggest beneficiary.

    As for the lopsided vote, look at the presentation. “If we don’t choose option2, Sealth, the school most will attend, will not have any improvements” (read; stay a ghetto school) There are many options that would have Sealth getting much more improvements than presented, but they don’t fit Facilities preferred plan, so we don’t get to see them.

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 9, 2008 (4:46 pm)


    I never suggested ignoring problems in the interest of marketing. If students at Sealth really don’t feel safe, I think it is good that this discussion allows that information to come out so that the staff at Sealth can do something about it and so that parents can make informed choices about where they send their students. On the other hand if these students are being manipulated by the adults who are against co-location, shame on those adults.

    Regardless of which is true, I just wish that insttead of leaving your kids unchallenged when they say how dangerous the school is, some of you at Sealth would talk about what you are doing to try to make school safe. From what the kids have been saying to me recently, you have a rampant gang problem that no one is doing anything about. If you are doing something about it, it seems as though someone has decided that it is not politically convenient to talk about that work, finding it more advantageous to make the school sound like it is not a safe place.

    Moving on…I find it curious how you assume that a 68% vote of Denny students in favor of the co-location plan is “lopsided” because of the slant of the presentation, but dismiss the possibility that the lopsided surveys of the Sealth staff and students might have something to do with the bias and misinformation being provided to them. The fact is that the Denny student government presented their peers the facts – what work would be done at Sealth under each option. They also talked about the fact that there were many people who felt that middle school students were safer with more distance between them and the high school. I made the point myself, that safety was of the utmost importance and that if students felt like middle school kids would not be safe around the high schoolers that this survey was an opportunity for them to let us know that.

    True, we did not present them with option 4. (Maybe you even have an option 5 or 6 you have drawn up in your office back there) But the fact of the matter is that the school board has only provided three options to this community and it makes no sense to confuse people with creative options that are not really on the table.

    The students and staff at Denny Middle School looked at the options and made the choice that in the long run it is in the best interest of students to have the money invested in their school rather than eaten up by inflation. I respect your disagreement with our assessment but I resent any sugestion that we are all manipulated by the presentation. Isn’t it possible that we can legitimitely come up with our own rational judgment that more resources poured into the building, and as I believe you will hear at the community meeting on the 12th, more support from our district in terms of collaboration time and other resources to make it work is in the best interest of kids?

    I find it curious that while people for the co-location are always accused of being manipulated by pretty pictures, no one ever questions the rationality of what is arguably a purely emotional assessment that moving the middle school closer to the high school will be an utter disaster. I hate to say it but the disaster is already occuring! You yourself just admitted that most of the students stuggling at Denny don’t make it through their first year at Sealth. Sealth’s annual report indicates that 30% of the kids who do make it though that first year, will ultimately dropout anyway. I don’t know why Denny’s suspension rates are as high as they are. But I know that our kids feel safe at school. Maybe if your school suspended more of the troublemakers, your students might feel safe too!

    I hate the fact that this discussion has put us in the unproductive sitaution of looking in one another’s annual reports and pointing fingers. It seems a no brainer to me that the solution to both schools problems lies in working together.

    My assessment is that if people like you and Deborah Meyer, and other people who are doing great work at the high school, had a stronger presence at and aroun the middle school, some of the “gangsters” you work with at the high school might never become gansters in the first place. I also believe that if some of us who have had some success with difficult kids in the middle school had a stronger presence at the high school, we could put our heads together, discuss what has worked and not worked with particular students, and find solutions that help every student to succeed. If we came together and built some programs that these students might take part in (woodshop, the pre-engineering program, creative arts programs, music programs) we might help students feel a sense of connection to their school and may motivate them to work in other areas. Whatever we do, we should not be dissecting one another’s annual reports trying to take cheap shots, but instead should be working together on solutions to our students problems.

    The problems these students bring to school are community problems. The solution requires us to come together as a community to fix them. We all do our students a tremendous disservice when we engage in this sort of petty bickering. Sadly I expct only more of the same at the Westwood Neighborhood Council Meeting on the 12th -which is why I myself will not be there. (That and the fact that the council apparently concluded that your voice on the panel was enough to represent “teachers” and that there did not need to be a teacher on the panel speaking in support of the opportunities co-location might create.)

    I can only hope that our school board will make the best decision on the 27th and that whatever they decide, we can stop this back and forth and try to engage in finding solutions. Our students deserve better than this. And even if option 3 is selected, I look forward to being a part of the discussion of how we can do more to make our students successful in the transition from middle to high school.

  • GenHillOne February 9, 2008 (6:20 pm)

    At the risk of “outing” myself…I will say that I believe the presentation made to Denny students (in three separate assemblies, one for each grade) was not biased, nor was the poll. I asked for VERY specific information from my student, for a completely selfish reason. My 8th grader was one of the student government members helping with the presentation. I wanted to be darn sure my kid wasn’t put into the uncomfortable position of presenting any particular slant that could change down the line. Can you imagine? “Hey, you said that if we went with Option 2 we’d get a new video arcade…what happened?!” Yeah, I made that one up, but I thought the process was a good exercise for the student body.

  • Delfino February 9, 2008 (6:22 pm)


    I find it disappointing that you would characterized my identification of factual data as “cheap shots.” I didn’t characterize your suggestion that maybe parents should decide to go elsewhere, because legitimate concerns about safety are raised by students and staff, that way. There is a lot of manipulation going on here, but I don’t think much of it is coming from our communities.

    The truth is this plan was developed not to help us deal with the real problems we face, or to improve the academics, it has been about money from the beginning. Now some are trying hard to find a positive spin on the saving money plan. I have chosen to take the harder road of challenging the District’s shortchanging of our community, and pointing out that all the facts and options have not been given to our community.

    Even now, the questions are not what is best for our kids, but how can we accept the loss of up to “25 million dollars in buying power”. If indeed the dire predictions of cost escalation predicted by Facilities are correct, The simple reordering of the projects could result in in a savings of $10 million dollars. Add to that the District’s willingness to buy us off with another $5-10 million taken from some where else, and we have $5 million more than the District is saying that the separate campuses would cost. The major improvements you see at Chief Sealth in the commons, classrooms, hallways etc have been accomplished with less than that. We could have a brand new state-of-the-art Denny and a substantially upgraded Sealth. If we would have pursued this earlier, like Sealth staff requested, even more upgrades could have occurred at Sealth

    Marcus, you have much higher level critical thinking skills than I see in your your last post. If we were allowed to work together “in finding solutions” as you state in your post, we could find solutions. Please don’t close off your thinking to all of the options. Our students and community need us to give it our all.

    Really, what would we lose if Denny was built at Denny? Do you think if we were given the time and resources, we couldn’t do every thing that is being claimed as a benefit of a co-joined campus just one and half blocks apart? Can you really not see, or do you disagree with, the idea that every other community in the City is getting two new or substantially rebuilt middle schools and high schools and this is inequitable to our our community; we have to share to share? Is this equity?

    We have a couple of short weeks to to affect this decision and 50 or more years to live with the results. Please don’t don’t back off and take the easy road. Our students and community need you to give us your best thinking, not just the most acceptable to those who have traditionally short changed us.

    By the way, I supported the request to include you on Tuesday’s panel. It was hard to argue that every single other meeting and presentation thus far has not even included an opposing viewpoint, and that there are more District viewpoints on this panel than any other.

    It seems that it may not matter since the official recommendation to the board will be proposed before this meeting even takes place. Why do you think this is?

  • GenHillOne February 9, 2008 (6:22 pm)

    And p.s. – it bothers me too that there isn’t any Denny representation on the Westwood panel.

  • Delfino February 9, 2008 (6:42 pm)

    But, I bet it didn’t bother you that no anti plan voices were included in any of the meetings prior to this.

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 9, 2008 (7:00 pm)

    Thanks Gen. I appreciate that.

    As the person who worked with the students to develop their presentation, I was careful to instruct them to present information in a dispassionate way, so as to not be seen as promoting option 2 over option 3. I felt it was extremely important that our students make a reasoned decision based on the facts and I was extremely impressed with the types of questions the students asked in their question and answer session.

    One student asked “Have you considered the fact that moving Denny closer to Sealth will make it feel less special to move from middle to high school because kids might feel like they were just going to the same place?” It was a good point that I really had not considered. After the question was asked I mentioned that question in the following two assemblies as a reason that someone might prefer option 3 over option 2. It was important to me that our presentation be balanced and informative, and looking back I feel that they were.

    Also, now that I have had an opportunity to re-read my most recent post, I want to apologize in advance to anyone it might upset. I allowed myself to get upset by the suggestion that I contributed to an assembly that presented biased information to our students. I also might have misinterpreted the use of our annual report suspension data as a way to try to blame Denny for the issues students are saying they see at Sealth. In retrospect, I wish had taken my time to respond with less emotion, as I feel that too much emotion is unproductive in this sort of public forum. So if anyone was offended, I sincerely apologize. I realize that most people who go into education do so because they want to be a positive force in the lives of kids. Although I may disagree with them on this subject, I have nothing but respect for my colleagues at Sealth. I look forward to working with them regardless of which option the board selects.

  • GenHillOne February 9, 2008 (7:02 pm)

    Oh, Delfino, you should know me a little better by now. I have a ton of respect for the teachers (Denny and Sealth) in the process, more than any other group because you’re there every day. At the bottom of that list are the education “activists” from everywhere but West Seattle, because I don’t know that I trust their agenda and would rather hear from those directly involved – current students, future students, even neighbors with no students. I know, I know, next will be the argument that everyone pays taxes and should have a say, but I wouldn’t dream of trying to steer Roosevelt’s future, for example, because it’s not my place. I digress.

    Actually, now that I know your last name, I feel badly calling you anything other than Mr. Munoz because that’s how I feel staff should be addressed respectfully. I just didn’t want to seem sarcastic if I shifted gears midstream in the conversation. Please notice though that I didn’t say I was bothered that Mr. Pimpleton wasn’t on the panel, or even someone pro-plan or anti-plan. Just someone from Denny would be nice. Our posts came through simultaneously so I hadn’t seen your comment, but I believe that you probably did advocate for more representation. No one is in a vacuum here.

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 9, 2008 (7:30 pm)

    No I do not think it is unequitable that Sealth has to wait for its renovation. To me equity means taking a look at the buildings district-wide, determining where the greatest needs are and putting the resources there. It also might involve taking a look at how many students would benefit from each project and doing it that way. In either case, Sealth is in far better shape than the other schools the district has worked on. Although I work closely with the kids at Sealth and want to see resources poured there, I recognize that there are students in other parts of the district who are in far worst buildings and I recognize that real equity means putting the resources in those places first.

    Sealth will get its turn for a complete remodel. In the mean time I think that colocation is a good use of available resources and offers great opportunities for our students.

    Can we do the work in two separate facilities? Yes we can! And as I said I look forward to engaging in the dialogue regardless of which option is ultimately chosen. But let’s be real. These schools have been located a block and a half apart this entire time and to date the work has not been done. Last year there was a proposal on the table for more collaboration between the middle and the high school teachers, which included the use of half days. That proposal was rejected by Sealth’s Instructional Council. Yes the work can be done, but will it?

    By the way, I share your frustration with the previous community meetings. I have felt the entire time that it would be better for the people at the schools to have a discussion about the opportunities and challenges of each proposal rather than to have the district leadership come out and spin it when they will not be the ones who have to make it work. That said, I feel that the makeup of this upcoming panel creates the impression that it is the locals (you) against the big mean district and ignores the fact that there are some people on the ground who believe that co-location is good for our kids. That voice is not represented by this panel. And in my opinion, this panel is just as guilty of silencing opposing viewpoint as the previous meetings have been.

  • Delfino February 9, 2008 (10:40 pm)

    The panel of Tuesday’s meeting is made up of Carla Santorno, Steve Sundquist, The Facilities representative of the District’s choice, a 22 year veteran retired Seattle police officer (I’m sorry I can’t remember his name right now), Dr Donald Felder A retired Seattle Schools Principal and currently with the Casey foundation, and myself.

    The District Facilities will be allowed a 15 minute presentation of the options, each panel member will give a maximum 3 minute statement and the rest of the time will be devoted to trying to answer questions from the audience. The event will be moderated by Enrique Cerna.

    I may be wrong, but his hardly seems like a stacked event.

  • Delfino February 9, 2008 (11:02 pm)

    Heres a couple of other corrections, Marcus.

    This will be Chief Sealth’s remodel. Anybody who thinks the District will come back and do more, after “the biggest project in Settle School’s history” is dreaming.

    As to the proposal that was on the table to share Denny’s extra release days, I was Chair of the Building Leadership Team and tried to convince Chief Sealth staff to support the idea. It was voted down by the full staff because we have not been allowed to implement any of the plans we have come up with in the past several years, and most felt that there is just too much on their plates as it is.

    We don’t have aligned curriculum in our own building, not because of lack of will, but because of lack of time and leadership. Co-location will not ensure this happens. We need time built into the regular day, not a couple of add on days that will be spent doing any number of other District directives.
    Co-location does not provide any more time, and even will make it more difficult because of staggered start times, lunches and bell schedules.

  • Delfino February 9, 2008 (11:21 pm)


    Thank you for the kind words and respect. I do prefer to be called Delfino by students, families and peers. I would much rather my ideas, actions and convictions be respected than my position.

    I must say that I have been very impressed by westello’s grasp of the issues, not just this one. You may not trust her motives, but she is one of the best critical thinkers I have heard. I have disagreed with her on occasion, but her arguments are based on facts and experience with the District as a whole. I have no question that she is powerful advocate of a better education system for all our students.

    Thanks again for your support of all our education professionals.

  • GenHillOne February 10, 2008 (8:52 am)

    LOL Delfino, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that assessment!

  • Mary February 10, 2008 (9:16 am)

    I am joining GenHillOne on this as well. I have seen far more misinformation come from the the blog Ms. Westbrook contributes to (well intentioned or not) than actual benifit. I am also suspicious of the members of the CAC on closure who passed the buck on tough choices and played it safe in thier recomendations. Close the already closed Hughes building?

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 10, 2008 (10:12 am)


    Thanks for explaining that decision of the Sealth staff to reject the additional collaboration time with Denny. I think many of us reacted feeling like it was just another indication that Sealth was not interested in working with us. I can appreciate the sentiment of not wanting more on the plate. But I think that vote answers both you and Madeleine’s question as to why additional collaboration is unlikely to happen in wholly separated facilities.

    It looks like we are just going to have to agree to disagree on which option is best for kids. But I have appreciated the dialogue and I hope that whatever happens you will help lead the uphill battle to get more collaboration between our two staffs going.

    Someone on your BLT should talk with Jeff about the collaboration plan he put in place at Denny this year. Our teachers are meeting every week, by subject matter, during the regular school day, and my understanding is that they are working on alignment and looking at student work. I am not sure exactly how that is funded (I know it involves counselors, the librarian, and the environmental ed teacher covering classes) but I wonder if any part of that might be duplicable at the high school.

  • Doug February 10, 2008 (2:15 pm)

    To tell you the truth, I am about ready to explode over this discussion. I sometimes wonder why we bother with a school board at all since we have more back seat drivers then I can count. It is my understanding that at least some research and forethought was put into this project before the design was established. Yes, it is a good idea to open up the forum to bring up any points or ideas that may have been missed. After that, it is time to gather our energies and make this project work for the kids, not our egos.
    I don’t quite get this equity thing people keep talking about. If every school were to get the exact same thing every year, none of them could get remodeled. If someone donates a computer, do we take it apart and split it up between all the schools? I don’t understand why some people are so upset that Denny would not have to move to Boren, but Sealth would. This seems so irrelevant to the discussion about the design and location of the schools. Does everyone have to share every discomfort?
    I’m also wondering why the WNC meeting is scheduled on the same day as the Denny Science Fair and Math Night. It forces Denny parents to make a decision to either support their children’s accomplishments, or attend this meeting. I’m concerned that participation at the meeting by Denny parents will be minimal for this reason.
    Now onto the Denny Building. If they decide to choose Option 3 to rebuild Denny in its same location, there will be at least some minor design changes but probably there should be major changes. Here is why:
    1) The civil drawings,the side sewer drawings and the soils reports will all have to be redone. There may need to be added soils shoring which is no small job.
    2) There will have to be minor if not major changes in the design of the building to fit a different landscape.
    3) It will probably be in the best interest of the school to take a new look at the design and traffic flow and exits and entrances since it will no longer be attached to another building. If you are going to build something to be around for 50 or 100 years it will we be well worth the extra time and effort to update and/or redesign the building.
    4) If the needed time is not given to the design team to make these changes it could be very costly to the district in change orders due to problems in the contract drawings. The costs will probably come in both money and time of completion.
    All that said, there is another iron in the fire. In the Sunday paper this morning, there was an article reminding us that the school district is struggling to do basic maintenance on these buildings. I don’t see how they can NOT try new ideas to cut costs for new buildings because they still need to put so much into basic maintenance. It would be wonderful to build new buildings all over the city but it ain’t gonna happen!

  • Marlene Allbright February 10, 2008 (2:17 pm)

    As far as I can determine, the motive behind the design of the panel was to create a fair and balanced group of viewpoints. It looks to me as though the facilities representative and Carla Santorno are definitely merger friendly. Steve Sundquist appears to be neutral so far. To my knowledge, Delfino is the only one that I’m sure is in favor of rebuilding Denny at Denny. To add Marcus would create an imbalanced viewpoint in favor of the merger.

    I believe that whoever selected the panel members did the best job they could to provide equity.

    Speaking of equity, Marcus, knowing that so many staff members, students, and community members believe that it would be better for children to have two separate schools, why would you object to having a brand new school at Denny’s current location? You can still continue the music collaboration with Sealth.

    There have been at least 30 or 40 of Sealth staff and community members at the last 4 school board meetings. Do you think we are doing this because we don’t have lives? I would certainly rather be home with my family, but this is an important issue that will have ramifications for decades to come.

    Tell me why a school like Nathan Hale that is 6 years newer than Sealth is getting an 84.5 million remodel? They just had a $10 million dollar remodel in 2005. I know that Nathan Hale has problems, but so does Sealth. I’ve heard the argument that its has “good bones.” It also has black mold, terrible crumbling ceiling tiles, and an unusable gym.

    If this merger happens, Sealth will lose its beautiful library, part of the commons, softball fields, tennis courts, 15 portables, several classrooms, a staff lounge, part of the commons, and a parking lot. Sealth has everything to lose, and Denny has everything to gain….oh, and I forgot about the 11 year old girls in close proximity of 18 year old men. Oh, I forgot, the Disrict is saving money. That’s more important than the welfare of students.

  • Suzanne February 10, 2008 (4:02 pm)

    Marlene Albright, please don’t dismiss the many staff members, students, parents and community members who are in favor of a shared campus.
    Also, related to some comments Marcus has made about the importance of having faith in our kids, I watched the movie “Freedom Writers” again last night, this time with my 7th grader. It is an important reminder that our kids live up or down to our expectations. It might be good for everyone to watch or re-watch this inspiring movie about a high school teacher who does some amazing things with her students because she believes in them. Better yet, read the book, “The Freedom Writer’s Diary”. We could all learn a few things.

  • Mary February 10, 2008 (5:34 pm)

    The pannel should not be set up as pro or con, but should represent all interested parties. To me, that means a Denny staff member should be included.

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 10, 2008 (6:43 pm)


    I understand that those of you opposing co-location are sincere in your feelings. I hope you can understand that I am sincere in mine. I attended Denny and Chief Sealth. I remember what it was like as a student at Sealth and the challenges the students faced. I remember many of my peers not making it because they felt zero connection to their school and their high school teachers and they lacked the strong family support needed to push them to overcome. And i have seen this cycle repeated year after year as students have left Denny and fallen through the cracks at Sealth.

    I am not here trying to be the spokesman for the district’s position. I could care less how much money the district saves. I am trying to speak up for the kids I see every day who are ignored.
    I am here to give voice to the kids in that 30% that get suspended from Denny and that 30% that will not make it to Sealth’s graduation. They do not have involved parents to show up to community meetings and ask questions. They do not have strong parents to come on the West Seattle Blog and make their case. All they have is us. And my concern is that too many of us have allowed fear to overtake us, and have resolved to let them fail, rather than to step up to the challenge of doing something different. This is reflected in the decision of the Sealth staff to reject additional collaboration time with Denny, and further reflected in the decision of Sealth staff to reject the possibilities that come from co-location. These students need us to care enough to do something for them. But too many of us are too concerned about having too much on our plates to make the type of commitment that these students need.

    ANd despite what many might assume, I am not here because I am concerned about the music collaboration of Denny and Sealth. I know that our program will remain strong regardless of which option is selected. My concern is for the many kids who are not lucky enough to be a part of the music program, who need us to develop other dynamic programs in visual arts, world languages, drama, woodshop, and pre-engineering that can provide them with the same type of connection to school that has been provided to our music students. Those kids need us to do something for them. The status quo is not working for them, and I see an opportunity here that I can not be silent and let pass by due to fear of the unknown.

    I feel like a broken record on this, but I sicnerely believe that if we all (educators, parents, and community members) were to come together behind this co-location, rather than spend our energies focusing on “what we can’t do” we will find out we are a lot more powerful than we think. This whole debate reminds me of the powerful quote by Marianne Williamson. “‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?
    You are a child of God, small games do not work in this world. For those around us to feel peace, it is not example to make ourselves small. We were born to express the glory of god that lives in us. It is not in some of us, it is in all of us. While we allow our light to shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others.’

  • Delfino February 10, 2008 (7:24 pm)

    Again Marcus, you are making erroneous assumptions.
    It is very unfair to state that those opposed to the co-joined campus “have resolved to let them fail” Marcus, you are a much better debater than that to resort to that kind of argument.

    Some of us really don’t think that shortchanging our community and trying to sell it as cutting edge pedagogy that we can some how figure out after the fact, if we are as dedicated enough, will solve the problems our kids face. We are asking for academics to drive building; not the other way around.

    This is not a Hollywood movie, nor a church service. It’s hard work and it’s clear that some of us disagree, or haven’t been allowed the time it takes to forge a common focus, about how to get there.

    You are right in that we have to work together, and both schools have positive momentum going that stands to be lost if we are not careful. We need to come together, but I ask you, are we likely to to this effectively when half of us are forced to be part of a plan that is against our better judgment and half think only their way is right. Or do we look for common ground first then build upon that?

    Again, what part of your vision can’t be accomplished with mutual respect, time and resources one and a half blocks apart? Will no other middle and high school community in Seattle be able to do this because they don’t get to have a combined campus?

  • Delfino February 10, 2008 (7:45 pm)

    “It is my understanding that at least some research and forethought was put into this project before the design was established.”


    The District did not see fit to share this research with us. Perhaps you can help me understand how I am wrong by posting some of this research and forethought.

    I went on the trip to the East Cost to view the models. The Principal of Frederick Douglas Academy warned us of the potential of mixing middle school girls and high school boys and scolded us for building a “monstrosity” while the rest of the country was trying to build small learning communities.

    The links to the studies presented to Board at the work session last month were dated in the mid 90s and all I could find was dead links at the US Dept of Ed website.

    I have asked supporters many times to post the studies and example of successful models. Maybe you can be the first.

    While some of us have been going on “faith” others have been trying hard to find answers. I eagerly await you response.

  • Suzanne February 10, 2008 (8:33 pm)

    If your comment about this not being a Hollywood movie was a reference to my suggestion to watch “Freedom Writers” or read the book, I hope you realize that it is a true story. The book is obviously much better than the movie. Are you even familiar with the story? By your comment, it seems that you may not be. It is about Erin Gruwell, a 1st year teacher teaching the most difficult kids in an inner city school. She had a vision that she could make a difference with these kids. Unfortunately, her supervisor, her principal and her co-workers thought she was nuts to even try and fought her every step of the way. They felt she was wasting her time and money on these kids who, in their opinion, were beyond hope. Fortunately, she persevered and turned around the lives of many of these kids. Many of those kids turned out to be the first person in their family to graduate from high school and go to college. A very inspiring and true story of how teachers can make a difference. Because of Erin Gruwell, similar programs have been started all over the country.
    I want more teachers like Erin Gruwell and Marcus Pimpleton in our schools who see possibilities rather than obstacles in every new idea.

  • Doug February 10, 2008 (9:48 pm)

    Delfino, I agree we should have more information on co-located campuses, if there is any. At this point I have not seen any convincing evidence one way or the other. I would like to see some hard evidence for why this could not work. The only impediment I have seen so far is the question of support from the Sealth staff should the co-location go through.
    I am truly beginning to wonder if there is some kind of animosity from the Sealth staff toward the Denny staff. Maybe you and Marcus could enlighten me on this. Maybe the Denny staff isn’t even aware of it yet.
    I am also getting very concerned about our plans to send our daughter and son to Sealth. Why is there such a problem with high school boys and middle school girls? They have been riding the bus together, doing music together, hanging out at the same malls. Why will there be such a drastic change at Sealth with a co-located campus? More importantly, what are you teaching the students there or is this just fear mongering to get your point across? From my perspective it is your job to teach the kids well in a safe environment. Unfortunately one of the things you may need to teach them is self respect and respect for others. I don’t expect 100 percent success but you have already predicted failure. From the things you and some of the others have said it is obvious that the respect kids should have for one another is not as prevalent at Sealth as it should be and this needs to change NOW, whether there are middle school kids there or not.

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 10, 2008 (11:10 pm)

    Doug, I don’t think there is any real “animosity” between our two staffs. There are just passionate people on both sides of this issue, who believe they have the best interest of students in mind.

    Because we are having this dialogue on a blog rather than in person, it makes it appear as though there is more animosity than there than there really is. To the extent that I have contributed to that, I want to again apologize. My intent in participating on this blog is not to burn bridges, but to express my optimism for the co-location plan and to speak out on behalf of my colleagues who I know want to speak out in support of it, but don’t want to be a part of any negative back and forth.

    Regardless of which option ends up being selected, I plan to be a part of making it work and I am confident that my Sealth colleagues will do the same. Over the past year I have come to realize that Delfino is an outstanding advocate for our kids and our community. Although we disagree about this, I agree with him that we are kindred spirits. Whatever differences exist between our staffs, we will come back together when all is said and done.

  • Doug February 11, 2008 (6:36 am)

    Marcus, Thank you for your input on this. I really do appreciate all the work you do for all the kids at Denny including my daughter. I know my daughter will do fine in just about any school she is in but I am most concerned about the kids that don’t have a stable home environment. Thanks for your response although it still doesn’t answer my bigger concern of my kids safety and the safety of all the other kids at Sealth but I don’t expect the Denny staff to be able to answer that.

  • Delfino February 11, 2008 (7:09 am)


    Marcus and I largely agree on this point. Our staffs clearly have the best interests of our students at heart, and given the real opportunity will work together for those interests.

    I also hear loud and clear your observation that the discussion sounds like some of us are predicting failure. If my comments have led you to believe I am gloom and doom, I have done a poor job of advocating for my position, and I apologize. I believe that anyone who has worked closely with me for the past 22 years will tell you that I have always been the optimist. I have advocated for the new ideas, and I have rolled up my sleaves and contributed in every way I could to make Sealth better for all students.

    There are a couple of difference that lead to a division on this issue. One is that Denny really has little to lose. A new building will be built, as it should be. Under the current plan, the staff and students don’t have to anything but wait for the new building and move in. They will have new facilities designed specifically with their needs in mind. Sealth, on the other hand, will again be pushed to the back. We lose educational space and flexibility. Many of us believe that our students need and deserve vocational opportunities. When this project is completed, we will have used up every available space on this campus. The idea of any “shop” classes is gone. The building of small personalized learning environment is harder to create with 2100 students than 1000. There are many more reasons that I don’t have time go into right now. I should have left 5 minutes ago.

    Believe me this position has not been taken easily. I looked for the academic benefits. They have not been provided, and are left to the very overworked staff to create.

    More later, and thank you for caring enough to engage in this discussion.

  • Marcus Pimpleton February 11, 2008 (11:00 am)

    The loss of “shop” is happening all over the place. Denny lost its shop class two years ago, which was a huge disappointment to me.

    The conventional thinking is that most of the skills students typically develop in shop class are of no use in the modern marketplace. Most of our goods are produced by machine rather than by hand and the new Project Lead the Way is supposed to be the modern version of shop, teaching students how to use the technology they would be most likely to encounter in the workforce.

    But I am with you, Delfino. I think it is therapeutic for kids to work with their hands and actually produce something. One of the kids at our assemblies last week was pleading with us to include shop classes in this project. I am wondering if that is still a possibility.

    I think the concern that the new Denny takes available space that could be used for additional buildings for new programs is valid. I wonder if there might be room for additional buildings where the portables are or if it might be possible to build up (adding floors to the building) instead of out.


  • Doug February 11, 2008 (7:10 pm)

    Marcus and Delfino I’m so glad you brought up the issue of the shop space specifically and the loss of space in general. I feel that is a very valid point that has not been clearly expressed.
    Working in the trades is also something I know very well. I have spent the last 30 years as a carpenter, foreman and field engineer, much of it doing projects of similar scope and size to Denny/Sealth. I know the importance of educating more people to be mechanics in all the trades. The last three years there were so few job applicants that if you had a pulse you got a job, reinforcing the idea that we need more trades people. The point of people thinking that machinery has taken all the skill out of the the trades is a bad misconception, though you may be correct that it is the current popular thinking.
    It saddens me to hear of the numbers of students that are not completing high school, especially when a good technical program would be a great addition to our students and our community and possibly greatly reduce the numbers of drop outs. On that note I am thinking that the grounds that Denny is currently sitting on could be used for a technical high school that would work in association with Sealth and Denny. The students at Denny could do half days of academics at Sealth and half day of shop. For the Denny students the facilities could be used for elective classes. The school could have counseling with a focus on jobs in the trades and 2 year associate degrees or apprenticeships. Maybe there already is program like this nearby that I am not aware of, making this all a mute point.
    My feeling is that the students should have the opportunity to receive a well rounded education. Deleting classes like shop really does a disservice to our community. I have felt for a while now that we are trying to push all of our students to get at least a bachelor degree that we have forgotten about the kids that really do not have an interest in college. It is time we we focus some on the kids that are struggling and not just on the great successes. This is just my general view of the system not specific to a teacher.
    I would love to see a good trade school program come to fruition and would be willing to work toward that goal, if there was any support. Thanks very much to both of you for your comments and recent insights.

  • Steve Taylor February 11, 2008 (7:12 pm)

    Possibly we should all take a step back and look in the mirror. Likely we all know “it begins at home”. We have children, we raise children, they get old enough we send them to school. They should already have a fair grasp of public behavior and conduct. There is no specific class that students are required to take that directly states such as a job description for a teacher. We require teachers to teach our children subject many parents would rather not broach (sex education) possibly being the number one subject. For those who may not be aware, Denny Middle School for many years, maybe still was the highest single parent of middle school children in the District. For those fortunate enough to have to spouses at home to raise their child/ren, think about what it would be like to do so all alone, as so many parents suffer through, to some degree often at the expense of the their child/ren. One of the issues is not every student is as stellar as the number one student/s boy / girl in any given school. Yes there are groups of students who would likely perform well in most any learning environment, however there are also students who struggle at the lowest level learning environments offered. When you learn of the draw back of how some students are allowed to fail, because they are allowed to hide behind what is referred to as an IEP (Individual Education Program). When properly applied and administered such can be a benefit to a student, however I believe far to many students are sheltered from a desirable learning environment within an IEP because they seemingly cannot excel within a traditional learning environment. Does it worry the parents of any of the younger students that 21 year olds are allowed to attend high school as students (not as teachers). Not everyone of these commonly referred to as Super Seniors are the most stellar or studious of students, as in many cases they are on their third year as a high school senior because for whatever their reason they were not able to graduate on time with their peers. Band students are not a typical cross section of all students representing their school. Band students are students willing to put forth additional effort. Unfortunately not every student has such desire, drive or home support. I urge everyone to consider all students enrolled within the school District when considering BEX 3, “options 1,2 or 3”. Take the time to attend all six periods at Denny in “general classes” as the majority of students attend such, not honors classes, do the same at Chief Sealth. Remember BEX 3, “options 1,2 &3” are for all students, not just honor students and band students. I have two honor students and one band student, along with a kindergartner. My none band honor student is also an athlete, in athletics there is often a great cross section of all students represented, including students who are, or become academically ineligible to play sports. Many students also begin sports academically ineligible to play sports, though are allowed to practice (not play in the games) however later after raising their grades up become eligible to play in the games as well. The bench mark for participation is a meager 2.00 semester gpa and not failing in more than one class… What a standard! Chief Sealth is a great place for students who choose to challenge themselves. Unfortunately I believe District has also taken a position of passing students through via all kinds of “programs” (alternative high school being one) that truly does not prepare many students for college. Where do you want your children to be? Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Steve Taylor February 11, 2008 (7:24 pm)

    Here is another one for you, does anyone who questions why there might be an issue between high school young men and middle school young girls question why District high schools freely (out in a bowl no less) offer condoms available for students? Gee why would that be? What could high school students being using condoms for? Now think about your daughters? Get my point! Obviously most every person learns of most all life offers, be it good or bad. What did you learn in high school? Possibly middle school? Or was it college or sometime after? Regardless now condoms are a common part of high school, even offered up freely in a bowl by the high school. Any questions? Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Steve Taylor February 11, 2008 (8:08 pm)

    Doug, I appreciate your above posting, really all of your postings, though I do not agree with everything in all of your postings. As far as the Denny Science Fair goes, I suggest arrive early and leave in time to be apart of a community gathering that could affect us all for decades, there will likely be another Denny Science Fair next year, there has been for many years previously. As far as “shop classes” go, the Seattle School District decided years ago that “computers were the future” we did not need shop classes. We needed computer classes instead. Consequently out went the shop classes, except computers cost money and it has taken time to collect the desired quantity and the schools (at least Chief Sealth) still does not have their desired number of computers. Yes many, possibly most people work with, or at least use computers, however not all of us, though obviously anyone reading the West Seattle Blog. Even trades people such as you and I use computers. Curious however we all (if we are fortunate) live in homes or possibly apartments. I guess the District decided we did not need to teach anyone how to build anything. Several Principals have signed on to the District’s philosophy as well. How many of us truly know how to construct a building? Not just a house, how about a hospital for example? I can tell everyone there are far more pipes of conveying various utilities than many people would likely consider, I strongly suspect you personally well understand this. There are some shop programs offered within the District, however nothing like in years gone by. They went when computers came. Possibly we will meet at the Science Fair, West Seattle is much like a small town (only bigger than many small towns). Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Steve Taylor February 11, 2008 (8:29 pm)

    Here is a curiosity (at least to me). I wrote a posting regarding “high school young men, young girls and condoms”. For reasons I am not aware of the posting posted on two different threads? Curious to me. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Delfino February 11, 2008 (9:10 pm)


    There is some possibility of State funding for an Occupational Skills Center in the Seattle Area. The District had a study last year to see if and how we could have one in Seattle. At the time we were talking about a partnership with Shoreline. I was appointed to the study committee at the last moment, but in the end, the recommendation was not to pursue it. Goodloe Johnson claimed to be new to the area an d unwilling to support it, so it didn’t go to the Board. There is some talk of renewing the proposal.

    Chief Sealth had the opportunity to house the ACE program, a half day trades introduction program. The Principal denied it evenn though we still have a wood shop that is schedule that is only used by a few student 2 periods a day, and because it doesn’t fit the IB or combined campus model. This wood shop with it’s heavy equipment will be converted into a shared “pre-engineering” computer lab with a really cheesy NC type mini mill. (I’ll believe we get more than the computers when I see it.

    I think it’s highly unlikely that the District will build a separate Vo-Tec high school facility in our area for cost reasons alone, and is one of the main reasons, I have personally opposed the combined campus. If Denny remained where it is, Chief Sealth would be in a great position to get a satellite skills center. We would have plenty of room, and the students who weren’t served by an IB type curriculum would have a chance to get connected to schools and a real future.

    When I went to Denny I made a C clamp with a forge and metal lathe. I learned wood identification, glueing techniques, wood lathe principle. I sand casted aluminum, made a fiberglass boat and learned a variety of hand tools. At Chief Sealth I took Automotive all 4 years, but passed on electronics, home construction, and metal shop. I took math through trigonometry, and got all the prerequisites to go to college. I paid much of my wife’s way through college buying, fixing and selling cars. I have taken my vehicles to the shop 3 times in my life (electrical)

    The pendulum will swing back to reality, and we will want to offer these to our kids again, but we won’t have the space and kids who want that opportunity will have to go elsewhere. Which will mean that the 1000 or so kids that stay at Sealth won’t get the opportunity. The only reason these went away is because we did not challenge these decisions when they were made. It’s much easier to go along with the flow. Short sightedness will not serve us in the long run. Two schools are much more flexible than one.

  • Steve Taylor February 12, 2008 (7:20 am)

    Delfino, you and I took many of the same classes (at each of the same two schools…), making many of the same “gadgets”. My son made the same Cribbage Board as I did twenty seven years later (though actually did a better job than I did on mine…” Between you and I we both know you are the “old salt” between the two of us. I took electrical, I am certain you would have enjoyed it. I find it curious I am a Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Contractor and they did not offer that trade skill. I find it curious now many of the high school students considered “at risk” are involved in shop classes, however attend such at South Seattle Community College. Curious now students must go to college to learn what at one time they could learn in high school. Are we watering down high school? Or are we watering down community college to the level of high school? Here is another example for you: John McGinley was the Auto Shop Teacher at Chief Sealth for thirty or so years. During that time the District promised to build an actual auto shop at Chief Sealth where cars could actually be worked on. This was to be constructed immediately North of Chief Sealth, physically connected to Chief Sealth, simply adding on to the building continuing North. It never was constructed, even though John McGinley was told repeatedly “it will be in the budget in the next few years…” Once again proving “Talk can be cheap, and actions speak louder than words” I was honored to be a Pall Barer of John McGinley and knew him and his family well. My children, wife and I swam in his pool. The District has an “agenda” it would be nice to see what that is in writing. What will happen (exactly) with Denny Property if Denny is relocated? Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

  • Indaknow February 12, 2008 (10:14 am)

    I would LOVE to see a vocational-tech program associated with Sealth…but I don’t think it will ever happen. I took wood shop and metal shop when I was at Boren, and auto shop (just the most basic to appease my father the mechanic) at Rainier Beach where we actually DID have a working garage. Ever since I found out about this project I have suspected that the district has plans to develop Denny into an even larger athletic complex and lease it to the Parks and Rec Dept. I tried to ask one of the district people at the meeting last week and he told me only that SPD would not sell the property but lease it-he could not offer me any details on who it would be to and why. Watch and see…

  • Steve Taylor February 18, 2008 (12:31 am)

    Indaknow, when the BEX III option 1 first became known to Chief Sealth Staff, at that time it was “suggested”, actually stated by some, however unfortunately I cannot recall by whom, possibly only a wishful thinker. That the Denny Site would become additional athletic field space, with all of the athletics and parking in one convenient enormous athletic complex. Obviously Seattle Parks knew what was coming. Curious they magically constructed a brand new gymnasium prior to the loss of the Denny Gymnasium they have used for so many years, never previously having their own gymnasium like most Seattle Community Centers (but let’s not forget we are in South Seattle), and effectively ruined, or helped to ruin the Denny Gym Floor, oh but no money to the District because for said damage/s. A constant trekking of wet feet onto a hardwood gymnasium floor has it’s affects over time… Something has been afoot for quite awhile, it will be interesting to see what plays out if BEX III, options 1 or 2 are chosen? Looking ahead at BEX III, options 1 (effectively out the window) and option 2 (very possibly / likely the course), it seems that “we told you so” to those who seemingly have pulled the wool over their eyes will not sufficient. I suspect understand this well. I welcome your posts, as they are far better written than my own. I know I am not a writer, only a voice willing to express in public. Thank you.

    Steve Taylor

Sorry, comment time is over.